Beijing solicits public opinion on traffic as congestion worsens

22:00, December 13, 2010      

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Never has Beijing made such great efforts in trying to improve its traffic conditions as the capital city witnesses the deteriorating flow of traffic, on the one hand, and unprecedented car sales, on the other.

The Beijing municipal government started soliciting public opinion on Monday on a draft plan that is designed to relieve the city's traffic problems.

According to the plan, the municipal government will take various measures, including speeding up construction of the infrastructure, improving traffic management and limiting car purchases or use, to improve the city's traffic conditions.

The announcement of the plan put an end to previous speculation that the government would usher in much stricter policies to control traffic in the city.

Earlier this month, the Beijing-based magazine Economy and Nation Weekly cited unconfirmed sources as reporting that Beijing would ask car buyers to obtain a parking permit before purchasing a car.

Moreover, every household would be limited to purchase only one car, and a 2-yuan "congestion fee" would be charged on every liter of gasoline or diesel sold, reported the magazine.

However, such harsh measures were not included in the draft plan made public Monday. At the same time, the previous rumors triggered a new round of car-buying.

A Beijing resident surnamed Tian had just put new license plates on his newly purchased Passat sedan.

"There have been rumors saying that Beijing will limit the number of license plates beginning next year," Tian told reporters at the car registration office in suburban Shunyi District.

"I had wanted to buy a FAW Volkswagen CC sedan. But the car is not available at the moment so I bought a Passat sedan made by Shanghai Volkswagen," Tian said. "It is important to obtain a license plate first, however."

Tian's concerns were shared by many who had expected a more stringent policy towards car purchases, and this dramatically boosted car sales, especially at the peak year-end season .

As of Dec. 5, the number of automobiles in Beijing increased 700,000 units from 4.011 million recorded at the end of last year, data from the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau (BTMB) indicates.

During the week from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, Beijing had 21,000 new cars on the roads, translating to 3,000 more cars per day.

"The traffic in Beijing is in a very severe situation," said Song Jianguo, director of the BTMB.

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